Americans’ faith in our institutions of government is at a low. We know our government is divided on almost every issue and our leaders are too often rewarded for their partisanship.

That’s why I want to spotlight Sen. Thom Tillis for his bipartisan effort to boost our economy and help businesses create jobs. He should be recognized that he is doing this despite being in a Republican primary election — the ultimate excuse for risk-averse politicians. Instead, Sen. Tillis is leading despite the partisan traps and for that I hope he is recognized and respected.

Sen. Tillis’ bill will reauthorize the federal Export-Import Bank, a small government agency that helps American businesses sell their goods overseas. This month, EXIM’s charter will expire, leaving American businesses in an unfair competition exporting their goods overseas — often competing against foreign companies that have their governments actively working alongside them, if not outright subsidizing them.

EXIM has provided financing and insurance products for more than 85 years and been supported broadly across both parties. But now, because of a small group of partisan extremists both inside and outside of Congress, EXIM’s mission is in jeopardy. As a result, companies across the country are at risk of losing business and cutting thousands of jobs.

In fact, 95% of the world’s customers are outside the U.S., and American companies stand to lose $40 billion in export sales in the pipeline and the 240,000 jobs those sales support if EXIM is not reauthorized. America’s ability to offer this financing internationally drives significant economic growth here at home.

In the past five years, the EXIM Bank supported nearly $2 billion in exports and more than 10,000 jobs among 152 North Carolina businesses, including 122 small businesses like mine. Workers at these companies manufacture heavy machinery, support transportation infrastructure projects, and refine chemicals, metals, ore and minerals.

My company, Lexair, is a supplier of communication technology and devices. Some of our customers rely on the EXIM Bank to remain competitive in the global marketplace. We know from past experience that our business here in North Carolina could suffer if our customers do not have access to this pivotal resource.

Despite these facts, EXIM’s critics say that the agency isn’t worth it, and it should be severely limited, or worse, not reauthorized at all. They attack the American exporters calling for EXIM’s reauthorization with class warfare language that is dishonest and misleading.

If the work of EXIM isn’t important to unleashing American exports abroad, then why do our competitor nations around the world have multiple EXIM equivalences of their own? Canada has one. Germany and Australia have one. In fact, China has three export credit agencies (like EXIM) and has done more export financing in two years than EXIM has in its 85-year history.

If Congress lets the EXIM Bank lapse, it will handicap U.S. workers and exporters across the world stage. We must support those in Congress who have the grit and fortitude to stand up for small business.

Americans prove time and again that when we compete on a fair playing field, we succeed and win. I support Sen. Tillis’s effort to reauthorize this important tool — the Export-Import Bank — that supports jobs in North Carolina and levels the playing field for North Carolina workers to compete with heavily subsidized foreign companies.

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The writer is the president and CEO of Lexair Electronics in Greensboro.

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